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The number of free breakfasts served to schoolchildren has hit an all-time high of 5.6 million. Educators credit a government-funded breakfast programme for dramatically improving student performance.

"Hungry children don't learn well," says Michele Tingling-Clemmons of the Food Research and Action Centre, which has tried to recruit more schools into the scheme in the face of evidence that many children come to school unfed. Children from low-income families who qualify for free breakfasts are more likely to arrive at school on time and are more attentive in class.

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